Dem Senator To Question Sessions Tuesday About Comey Allegations

A routine budget hearing in the Senate next week featuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions took on heightened importance following ousted FBI Director James Comey’s explosive Thursday testimony, which raised questions about what Sessions did both before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

At least one member of the Appropriations Committee, Vice Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), plans to use next week’s budget hearing as an opportunity to grill Sessions about Russia, Comey and President Donald Trump. “I have many important questions for him to answer,” he said in a statement.

“I have sought for months to clarify Attorney General Sessions’ contacts with Russian officials following his false testimony in response to questions from me and from Senator Franken,” the statement continued. “We wrote to the FBI requesting that they investigate such matters. I am also deeply concerned about the Attorney General’s role in firing Director Comey in light of his recusal from the Russia investigation. I led Democratic Judiciary Committee members in a letter asking the Inspector General to investigate.”

Comey’s testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee raised new questions about Sessions that interested Leahy. The statement referenced Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asking Comey why he didn’t share concerns about the President’s request that he quash an FBI investigation into fired national security adviser Mike Flynn with the attorney general before he recused himself. Comey responded that he knew weeks in advance that a recusal had to be coming down the pipeline.

“Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons,” Comey said. “We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.”

Wyden also asked Comey if he believed Sessions behaved appropriately in recommending Comey’s firing after recusing himself from matters related to the Russia probe, to which the former FBI director responded tantalizingly: “It’s a question that I can’t answer, but it’s a reasonable question.”

Comey further testified that in the Feb. 14 meeting where Trump made the Flynn request, Sessions and senior adviser Jared Kushner obeyed Trump’s order to leave the room first. Comey said that he believed Sessions knew what was afoot and did not act.

“My sense was the Attorney General knew he shouldn’t be leaving,” Comey said.

Those revelations cap off an excruciating week for Sessions, in which news outlets revealed that he offered to resign last month amid an ongoing rift with the President over the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Trump did not accept that offer.

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